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So, a student you take interest in has told you they want to study abroad. How exciting!  And you probably have a million questions. UCEAP is here to help.

Why study abroad

Study abroad delivers an impact that will positively affect the rest of your student’s life. Really.  

This academic opportunity reaches far beyond earning credit, networking with faculty and peers abroad, and forging lifelong friendships.  

Students see the difference:

student survey inforgraphic

Sources: Gaining an Employee Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad  on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects in the United States, Institute of International Education

Make no mistake, study abroad is a challenging experience. It teaches valuable skills like independence, confidence, and self-awareness. In fact, study abroad might be the single most valuable thing your student does before they graduate! 

Recent research suggests that study abroad doesn’t delay timely graduation and may, in fact, boost graduation rates.


Your student's health and safety

Students who take UCEAP programs receive UC-level support backed by a world-class health and safety system. No matter where your student is in the world, they have 24-hour emergency response and comprehensive health and safety protocols to help them stay safe.  

In addition, your student’s health while abroad is carefully considered and supported by the UCEAP health clearance process

When your student participates in a UCEAP study abroad program, they are also covered by a travel insurance plan that is purpose-built for UC students. The cost is included in the program costs, and your student will be automatically enrolled once accepted into a program. That’s one concern you can check off your list! 

Study abroad affordability

Choosing to study abroad is a big step and an essential investment for your student’s future. One of the advantages of choosing a UCEAP program is cost.  

UCEAP programs typically cost less than programs offered by other study abroad providers. This is because UCEAP is a University of California program and works directly with UC financial aid offices. And, unlike many study abroad providers, UCEAP includes all essential living expenses in the program costs estimates.

If your student is on financial aid, their aid can be applied to the cost of their UCEAP study abroad program. As a UC student, they are eligible for UC Cal and Pell grants—plus scholarships

Depending on where your student goes, study abroad could be less expensive than a typical semester or quarter at UC. See the list of study abroad locations where your student can save tuition money on study abroad

Preparing to study abroad

Now that you understand the value of study abroad, here’s how you can help your student prepare.

While they are applying

Encourage your student to disclose any accommodation needs (academic or otherwise) to UCEAP at the start.

All disclosures are confidential, and there's a big benefit to disclosing as early as possible. 

Not all accommodations can be met at all locations, so these early discussions can help your student choose a program where their needs can be met.

When they are accepted

Encourage your student to apply for UCEAP scholarships. With just one application, your student has access to thousands of dollars that can help pay for their needs abroad. 

Bonus: Check out this advice in The Californian Abroad: How to Get Study Abroad Scholarships

During the health clearance process

Encourage your student to disclose any mental or physical health needs on their health clearance, which is a process completed prior to departure.

Read more about the UCEAP Health Clearance

Before they depart

Encourage your student to think about a personal safety plan and how you’ll stay in contact while they are abroad. 

Encourage them to sign up for the US Department of State’s STEP program to receive important and timely security messages about their location abroad. 

In addition to helping your student prepare, be sure your passport is current. You’ll need it to visit your student abroad. Plus, you don’t want to be stuck with an expired passport in the rare situation when your student is sent to a hospital in their host country or region. 

Communication between UCEAP and your student

Students are legal adults, and UCEAP communication will be primarily with the student. Federal Law (FERPA) protects the privacy of our students, and generally prohibits our sharing of their information with anyone outside of the education institution, including members of the student's support network unless that student provides express authorization in advance. 

UCEAP allows the student to decide how to involve their support networks. Please encourage your student to share important information with you and other family members, and, where appropriate, authorize your access to information, in advance of their participation in a UCEAP program. During emergencies, UCEAP will communicate with the student's emergency contact as permitted by law. 

Authorization for general student record access, financial record access, and emergency contact may be provided by the student during the application process online in the UCEAP Portal, or during enrollment by contacting our Data Privacy and Compliance office at

When your student returns

Give yourself time to get to know your student again when they return. For some students, the study abroad experience is very transformative, and they may have difficulty expressing how they've changed. You may also notice they approach their lifestyle, relationship with others, and academics in new and different ways. 

You probably know your student will experience culture shock while they are on study abroad. You may not be as familiar with reverse culture shock, which can be a surprise.  

Reverse culture shock is something nearly all study abroad students experience to varying degrees when they return. As a caregiver to a student who plans to study abroad, it may be helpful to understand the symptoms, so you are prepared to support them. 

Be sure to read UCEAP’s advice on managing reverse culture shock

Curious to learn more from others?

You may find past surveys of parents, guardians, and support networks useful. UCEAP Research conducts annual studies to understand the study abroad experience from your perspective.

Explore the UCEAP parent survey data to learn what past support networks have said about study abroad and the effect of study abroad on their students.